Natural Highlights: Big Brown Bat

  Big Brown Bat

The Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) is larger than most of the other bat species in the Midsouth, but it is hardly intimidating, weighing in at 32-35 grams, or a little over an ounce.  According to bat expert, Chris Grow, the Big Brown is one of the species most likely to utilize a bat box here in the Memphis area, along with the Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis). Our Midsouth bats eat only insects, and lots of them, hundreds every hour, using their remarkable echolocation ability.  Most of our species shelter in trees and might also use bridges or buildings - or other structures like bat boxes.

Here's a list of Midsouth bat species: Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus); Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis); Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis); Rafinesque’s Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii); Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus); Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis); Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus); Seminole Bat (Lasiurus seminolus); Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans); Southeastern Myotis (Myotis austroriparius); Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis).  For more information on each of these species, please visit the Tennessee Bat Working Group website. 

Bats need our help.  The Indiana Bat is federally endangered.  Others are headed that way.  White Nose Syndrome has wiped out millions of cave-dwelling species, but habitat loss, pesticides, and other threats are harming many others. The best ways to help? Protect habitat by supporting conservation; protect forests, wetlands, rivers, streams, and other habitats wherever you can; install a bat box; let dead and dying trees stand when possible; plant shagbark hickories and white oaks and other trees which provide spaces for roosting; don't use pesticides.  Something you should NEVER do: pick up a bat lying on the ground.  Bats, like any mammal, can carry diseases, including rabies. Call a bat expert instead.

The best resource for information on bats and bat houses is Bat Conservation International (BCI).  This link takes you directly to the BCI bat box page, which includes plans for construction and installation and a list of BCI-certified vendors.

More information can be found on the following websites:  

Tennessee Bat Working Group (TNBWG)

Mississippi Bat Working Group (MBWG)

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA)

The Nature Conservancy

Posted by Cathy Justis at 10:28 PM